Did she really say those words to me? I can hear her talking but it seems that she is speaking a different language. I know my daughter is reading out loud so maybe that is why I cannot understand her. I just let her know that I would need to call her back.
Once the cloud in my head cleared, she confirmed what I already knew. Somehow, I could feel something just wasn't right. Everywhere I looked it seemed like cancer was there. It appeared on TV shows, in books, people talked about it on the radio, and even my daughter wanted to donate money to the cancer society. And now it was inside of ME.
The diagnosis was Triple Negative. You would think hearing negative from a medical professional would be a sigh of relief, but not for me. I heard the words but I rejected what they meant and marked them return to sender. Further research highlighted it is an aggressive form that is becoming more common in women under 50. The main question that was stuck in my head, with tears in my eyes was, "What am I supposed to do now?” The first thing I needed to accept was this diagnosis is not a death sentence. It will only kill me if I let it and I have no intention of that happening. It was time to fight!
|Tomika with her husband, Sy, and her son, Nadir and daughter, Eliza|
Another significant part of this process is having a group of professionals that you truly trust to help you along this journey. I received an overwhelming amount of support for the staff at the University of Pennsylvania. From my first consultation, the doctors (Dr. Julia Chou, Dr. Suhail Kanchwala, and Dr. Keerthi Gogineni) and supporting staff were open and welcome to answer each of my questions. I felt extremely comfortable and knew that I could trust them with this very important journey.
The healing, I learned is mental, physical and spiritual. Mentally, you must learn all that you can about the prescribed treatment plan and believe that you will beat this. Physically, you might have to push yourself beyond the norm. There will be days where all you want to do is sleep and just take your meds, but your body needs movement to recover. Pray, and have faith like you have never prayed before. These steps helped me enter surgery on July 26th with a clear mind and belief that I was going to be a survivor.
Strut Strong, Proud to be a SurvivorPink Ribbon Stilettos was born based on my journey. Through this journey, I realized women do not receive all of the support needed for this mental, physical and spiritual fight. It has definitely made me stronger and increased my desire to help others. And now, Pink Ribbon Stilettos will help others Strut with Breast Cancer. Strut with confidence that you will be a survivor. Strut with strength that you will be a fighter. Strut with faith that this will only make you stronger.
Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center is leading the way in breakthrough cancer treatment. If you or someone you know has been touched by cancer, the power to find the Cure is Within.
Hear our stories and find out more today.